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IPFS News Link • Immigration

California Bill Would Give Unemployment Benefits To Illegal Immigrants

•, by John Seiler

That was thanks to Assembly Bill 133, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in July 2021.

Cost: $4 billion more a year, as an estimated 764,000 illegal immigrants are added to the already stuffed rolls of the 14.6 million Californians on Medi-Cal, the state's version of the Medicare program.

At the signing almost three years ago, Mr. Newsom exclaimed, "We're investing California's historic surplus to accomplish transformative changes we've long dreamed of—including this historic Medi-Cal expansion to ensure thousands of older undocumented Californians, many of whom have been serving on the front lines of the pandemic, can access critical health care services."

Oops! That was when the state enjoyed a nearly $100 billion budget surplus. Now it's suffering a deficit of $38 billion, according to Mr. Newsom's Jan. 10 budget proposal. Or $58 billion, according to the Legislative Analyst's Jan. 13 analysis of that proposal.

Next up: Senate Bill 277, by state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles). It would give unemployment benefits to illegal aliens. According to the analysis by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, "This bill establishes, until January 1, 2027, upon appropriation by the Legislature, the Excluded Workers Program (EWP) administered by the Employment Development Department (EDD) to provide income assistance to workers ineligible for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits."

And here are the new costs:

$270.7 million to set up the program. The taxpayer dollars would go "primarily to develop a new information technology (IT) system. EDD's UI program is a federal-state partnership, with the current IT system largely funded through federal grants. However, federal rules would preclude EDD from using existing systems to administer the EWP, thus requiring EDD to establish a new, separate IT system exclusively for the EWP."

Annual costs to run the IT system "ranging from $39.3 million to $53.8 million."

"Ongoing costs of benefit amounts, ranging from $330 million to $2 billion, paid to EWP claimants."

Here's the problem, though. Health care involves an actual, physical patient needing to be patched up or given medications, or preventive medicine. So there's a limit. But giving unemployment benefits to illegal aliens would make the EDD system even more ripe for fraud than it already is. Many illegal immigrants pay into the system now. But how do we know they're actually doing the work claimed? What if they're laid off officially, collect EDD benefits, but then are hired back unofficially for the same jobs? By definition, "illegal" involves at least some measure of illegality.